Lakers reserve forward Josh McRoberts won't play in Tuesday's game against the Houston Rockets because his sprained left big toe has worsened.
McRoberts initially injured the toe last week against Sacramento, but he managed to play through it. He sat out Monday's practice. The Lakers list him as day-to-day, and McRoberts remains unsure whether he can play Thursday at Portland. Had this been a playoff game, however, McRoberts said he would have suited up. An MRI exam and CT scan Tuesday did not show any fractures.
"Games come so quick, so there's really no time to rest," McRoberts said by his locker before the game. "Just trying to get it rested up and be healthy for the majority of the season here."
That will involve receiving treatment on his toe, wearing medical tape and limiting his work to only weight exercises. Meanwhile, Lakers Coach Mike Brown said he will increase Troy Murphy's minutes during McRoberts' absence. McRoberts has averaged 5.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in his first six games with the Lakers, and started at power forward during Andrew Bynum's four-game suspension. Murphy has averaged 3.2 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Josh can play the 4 and the 5," Brown said. Troy is more of a 4 from a matchup standpoint defensively. Offensively, the 4 and 5 are similar. The tough part about it is neither of them are great post-up players."
Lakers reserve forward Josh McRoberts is a game-time decision tonight against Houston because of a sprained big toe on his left foot.
McRoberts initially injured the toe last week against Sacramento, comparing it to a turf-toe situation after he stopped abruptly during the game. Pau Gasol inadvertently stepped on the toe as well later in the game, McRoberts said at the time.
An MRI exam and CT scan Tuesday did not show any fractures, and the team ruled him day-to-day.
McRoberts is averaging 5.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in his first season with the Lakers.
Reserve forward Troy Murphy would get more playing time if McRoberts can not play against Houston. Murphy is averaging 3.2 points and 6.3 rebounds.
The Lakers are 3-3 overall, 1-1 with Andrew Bynum in the lineup. They play at Portland on Thursday and play host to Golden State on Friday.
Photo: Lakers forward Josh McRoberts is considered a game-time decision for tonight's game against Houston because of a sprained big toe on his left foot. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / December 27, 2011
No, the Lakers don't have typical New Year's resolutions. They don't need to work out more, eat healthier and get a better job.
But they too are looking forward to a fresh start and in an interview with The Times, they discussed what they hope the New Year will bring.
Josh McRoberts wants world peace (not his teammate), Metta World Peace wants to have fun, Kobe Bryant wants to be healthy, Jason Kapono wants his fans to send him books instead of candy and Matt Barnes is looking forward to moving on from a year that he said was both personally and professionally challenging.
Mark Medina, who runs The Times' Lakers blog, has some other suggestions -- so he talked with his colleague Melissa Rohlin in a video interview below about what the Lakers should be desiring.
The plays happened on a seemingly never-ending loop.
Josh McRoberts dove for loose balls. He helped out on weakside defense. He threw down alley-oop lobs. He provided instant energy.
Yet, the context in which McRoberts delivered those plays will change. Lakers center Andrew Bynum returns to the starting lineup Saturday against the Denver Nuggets after serving a four-game suspension, moving McRoberts from the starting power forward spot to the bench. But that doesn't mean those aforementioned plays have to remain a distant memory.
"I'm going to keep doing the same things I've been doing," McRoberts said. "That will be off the bench. Trust me, I'm the happiest guy here that Andrew is coming back. He's going to make it a lot easier on all us three big guys in there."
Lakers Coach Mike Brown didn't have an exact plan on how many minutes he will grant McRoberts as well as Troy Murphy after the two gave Pau Gasol some needed frontline depth during Bynum's absence. But with Brown's plan to play Gasol and Bynum around 34 minutes per game, it's safe to say McRoberts' playing time won't come near to the run he burned as a four-game starter. That entailed averaging six points on 44.4% shooting, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 25.8 minutes. Instead, the playing time might mirror the two points and three rebounds McRoberts averaged in 17 minutes through two preseason games.
Regardless, Brown doesn't expect McRoberts' game to change.
In a sign that the Lakers are taking a liking toward Josh McRoberts' hustle, energy and enthusiasm, a few have thrown nicknames his way.
There's "McBob," which ESPN Los Angeles Dave McMenamin immediately found out McRoberts doesn't like. There's "Mac," which his former Indiana teammates used. With his gritty play reminding many Lakers fans of Kurt Rambis, some fans have dubbed him "McRambis." And with Steve Blake throwing a few lobs to McRoberts, there's "McClob city" or McLoberts."
"I'll let ya'll come up with anything," McRoberts said with a smile. "As long as my Grandma can read it, you can call me what you want."
I took this project one step further, asking Lakers Coach Mike Brown what nickname he'd give to McRoberts after he provided instant energy as the team's starting power forward during Andrew Bynum's four-game suspension. Brown immediately thought of "The White Shadow," a former CBS drama that ran in the late 1970s-early '80s that starred a fictitious former white NBA player named Ken Reeves coaching Carver High, an urban high school in South Los Angeles.
"With his white socks, that just came to mind," Brown said with a laugh. "It's like 'The White Shadow.' You think he's Dr. J, but he doesn't look like Dr. J. He's kind of old school. The only old school I really know that is really famous is 'The White Shadow.' "
That prompted ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky to ask whether Brown could assign a specific player, such as Mario "Salami" Pettrino or Abner Goldstein.
"That's not bad," Brown said with a laugh. "I don't know if he'd take to the nickname 'Salami' though."
He probably wouldn't. We'll certainly let McRoberts have the last word. But perhaps to help him narrow his choices, vote in the poll below on what would make the most fitting nickname. I'll share it with him perhaps before the Lakers' game Saturday against the Denver Nuggets.
Though the Lakers' Pau Gasol and Josh McRoberts are dealing with injuries, Coach Mike Brown said he expects his starting forwards to experience "no limitations" Tuesday against the Utah Jazz.
Gasol played with protective padding on his right shoulder during the Lakers' 100-91 loss Monday to the Sacramento Kings, after suffering a sprain while fighting through a screen on Sunday against Chicago.
McRoberts has a sprained left big toe, the result, he said, of normal wear and tear through two regular-season games. But he said he also suffered a sprained left shoulder Monday when he took the brunt of an offensive foul by Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. Meanwhile, Matt Barnes has bursitis in his left hip, but is still listed on the active roster.
As for their respective injuries, both McRoberts and Gasol indicated in the locker room before the game that their injuries would not prevent them from playing.
Brown holds that same optimism regarding the Lakers despite their first 0-2 start since the 2002-03 season.
"I'm sure there is panic out there," Brown said. "My oldest son is panicked himself. He's always panicked when we lose. I'm not. Whether it's right or wrong, I don't know. But I feel good about my team and the process we're going right through right now."
That's because Brown said he remains satisfied with the team's offense despite its heavy number of turnovers. He also expects the breakdowns on defending the pick-and-roll to subside fairly soon. Then , of course, there's the return of Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who's serving a four-game suspension after throwing a forearm at Dallas guard J.J. Barea in the 2011 playoffs.
--The Times' Mike Bresnahan details the Lakers' fourth-quarter flameout in their 100-91 loss Monday to the Sacramento Kings. Bresnahan also notes that forward Josh McRoberts has a sprained left thumb but says he wants to play Tuesday against Utah.
Tweet of the Day: "Sacramento just moved closer to a new arena. Drive to keep the Kings has been fueled by emotion, and beating Lakers is an emotional boost." -- SHowardCooper (NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper)
Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day: "We have guys like Troy Murphy, Josh McRoberts, Luke Walton, Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, and Jason Kapono all playing roles for this years squad. No NBA team can win when you have this many bench fillers on your team. That's half of the team right there. And I'm not including Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock, Ron Artest, and Derek Fisher; who are either too young, too old, or too nutty. I'm putting an asterisk on this season.
Mitch needs to find a way to get some players. Dwight and DWill would be nice, but right now we need 2-3 more guys who can compete and defend against 1st string NBA players." --Gilberto Rocky Portillo
-- Mark Medina
E-mail the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Kobe Bryant tries to drive past Kings guard Marcus Thornton on Monday night in Sacramento. Credit: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
Some things to keep an eye on when the Lakers play at Sacramento on the second day of a three-game stretch.
1. How will Kobe Bryant's wrist hold up? I hope to keep the Kobe wrist-watch analysis in perspective, so it doesn't sound redundant. Believe me, asking Bryant how his wrist is feeling becomes as annoying to him as the reporter asking it. But it's going to be inevitable, at least for the next couple of games. As Bryant showed Christmas Day with a 28-point performance on 11-of-23 shooting, his stroke is largely unaffected -- at least to the point that he only needs to wear athletic tape around the wrist, instead of a protective device. However, his eight turnovers can be at least partly attributed to his wrist problem. The lower that number drops, the more it will indicate that Bryant is making better adjustments on his handle.
2. The Lakers need a pick-me-up. The Lakers definitely need this back-to-back to immediately rectify blowing an 11-point lead in the final minutes of the Christmas opener. In that game, they showed that hard work alone won't be enough to beat elite opponents, and certainly won't wipe out ridiculous mistakes. The game against Sacramento gives them an opportunity to correct those and errors and feel better after collecting a win.
1. The Lakers blew the game in the final two minutes. The Lakers 88-87 loss Sunday to the Chicago Bulls points to the horrible execution in the final minute. Pau Gasol and Josh McRoberts both missed two fre throws. Kobe Bryant was wrongfully called for a personal foul on Luol Deng. Bryant committed a costly turnover. Derrick Rose then blew past both Derek Fisher and Gasol for a running-hook shot that gave the Bulls a 88-87 lead with 4.8 seconds remaining. Bryant could'n't provide any heroics, as his game-winning shot was blocked by Deng as time expired.
2. The Lakers can't handle the ball. Despite his relentless optimism about his team, Lakers Coach Mike Brown acknowledged being uncertain about whether the Lakers can reduce the 21.5 turnovers they averaged in two preseason games. They cut it to 16 turnovers, but it was a few too many, particularly in the final minutes.
3. The Lakers' early season success hinges on effort. This game hardly looked pretty, but it was winnable. This shows that the Lakers will have to simply outwork teams while still mastering Brown's system. The Lakers have the talent to do that, but they often lacked a grinding mentality in previous seasons.
4. Bryant maintained aggressiveness despite wrist injury. He didn't follow Fisher's prediction that he'd open the game by shooting a 22-footer to prove his right wrist is healthy. Despite not wearing any device to protect the torn lunotriquetral ligament, Bryant maintained his aggressiveness and showed that it wouldn't affect his play or shot.
Bryant finished with 28 points on 11-of-23 shooting shooting in 35 minutes, attacking the basket as he would in any other game. He drove in for a reverse layup past Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer and Noah. He ran high pick-and-roll sets with Pau Gasol. He looked comfortable shooting pull-up jumpers. He even stole a pass with his right hand and connected with Derek Fisher on a fast break.
It's obvious that Bryant's wrist injury at least partly contributed to his eight turnovers. He often committed those when he ran isolation sets that required a lot of dribbling. Bryant can mitigate that by limiting shots through spot-ups and off-the-ball movement. Still, it was a good showing considering the circumstances Bryant faced. That's why it's fitting Bryant puncuated the night by making a fall-away jumper that gave the Lakers an 87-81 lead with 54.6 seconds remaining.
5. The Lakers' defense appeared in flashes. The Lakers rotated their frontcourt so effectively to ensure Rose stayed out of the paint that he remained scoreless in the first quarter. But that effort didn't hold up as Rose finished with 22 points on eight-of-12 shooting. The Lakers appeared to communicate frequently on closeouts, but Chicago still went seven of 15 from three-point range. The Lakers showed effort defensively. They executed well at times in limiting Rose's drives, Chicago's inside presence and its outside shooting. But it wasn't always consistent.